Monday, February 25, 2013

Of meetings and moods

I commented to someone the other day that I enjoy meetings, and it's actually true. If the cause is good, if the people are committed, if the agenda is planned carefully, then a meeting can be wonderful.

One of the challenges in holding a good meeting, though, is in the external elements, factors which have no business influencing the meeting but will do so anyway. Examples:

The music someone had playing in the car on the way to the meeting. Songs with drums and electric guitar may create an aggressive mood, while some types of classical music may encourage patience and thought.

Did participants come to the meeting straight from work, or from the gym? Depression can be heavily influenced by a shortage of neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine. Exercise increases concentrations of these neurotransmitters by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system. There’s more to it, too; see here for some fascinating information.

The more people sleep, the calmer they tend to be. [I did not sleep at all last night, not a wink; let's just say today was not a calm day for me. But thank Gd, I made it through leining the megillah and delivering mishloach manos without crashing.]

The type of food one was eating before coming to the meeting, as well as the speed and tenor of the meal.

Time with family – I know I'm much better at a meeting if I come from reading with my kids. Regrettably, that isn't frequent enough…

Reading the news, naturally, will influence a mood.

For someone who was in the beis medrash, the mood is influenced by the type of learning [s]he was doing before the meeting – Was it humbling mussar? Strict halachah? Complex gemara? (See Berachos 31a, instructing us to learn something simple and straightforward before davening.)

I'm not sure I have a real point here – like I said, it's been a very long two days - other than to say that when someone sitting opposite you at a meeting displays  an idiosyncratic reaction, it might be a good idea to consider the external factors involved.

[After writing this post, I found another post of mine on meetings, from back in 2009.]

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